"In an all-out effort to cash in on this potential market, Edison Electric has pulled out all the stops in a gigantic All-Electric Kitchen Program. Almost every advertising medium is being used Ñ radio spot announcements, newspapers, magazines, plan books, a 'Kitchenizer's Digest' of pertinent articles from women's magazines, outdoor posters, window display cards, envelope inserts, truck posters Ñ and, of course, a 16mm motion picture." [The Constant Bride, produced by Wilding Picture Productions] (Business Screen, May 1949).
Ken Smith sez: This film was designed to show consumers (particularly housewives) the marvels of electric appliances so that they would use more electricity and make more money for electric companies. Teen queen Judy Adams and her mom praise (in turn) their electric dishwasher, freezer, iron, range and vacuum in equal proportion to the plot. Which is as follows: Judy's brother, Bob, visiting from college, brings along his buddy Alex. Judy thinks Alex looks like "a real cool Jonah" but she quickly realizes he's just a "book gook" -- a man whose hobby is time and motion studies and whose favorite tune is "the music of machinery." After much fruitless sulking, Judy realizes that fighting electricity is useless, so she decides to use its power to prepare a great meal and warm Alex's cold heart. It works.
Most of this takes place within the Adams' kitchen, where it seems someone is always eating. Alex explains to Judy how the placement of her kitchen appliances embodies time and motion. "Just like machines in a factory; straight line production!" he exclaims, gazing at the refrigerator and range.
Bob remarks as the film ends: "I'm gonna watch TV tonight. Lotta good shows!" (Jam Handy knew who would butter his bread -- see also Style notes). Judy's character was lifted from the 1948 MGM movie (and the late forties NBC radio show) A DATE WITH JUDY.
This film was scripted and shot to fit smoothly and unobtrusively into a half-hour TV time slot; it's episodic, structured like a sitcom, and comes complete with musical stings and breaks between each "act" for a commercial. Years ahead of its time.
Young Man's Fancy was made during the first few years of national television, when corporations and trade associations produced films to fill the long, empty periods when the networks were off the air. Though it was produced to show in all the usual places Ñ home ec classrooms, womens' clubs, farm organizations and factory lunchrooms Ñ it resembles early TV sitcoms more than any other genre.
So as to be eligible for screening in classrooms and on TV, Young Man's Fancy avoids advertising any specific products or tradenames. But how many times does it mention electricity in 29 minutes? It's easy to lose track. Like today's infomercials, it takes advantage of the fact that it holds an audience in place for quite a long time.
Like The Easier Way (also on this disc), men plan efficient ways of working while women do the work. Nerdy, fact-crazed, yet handsome, Alexander Phipps invades the household and proves to be "the real, cool Jonah" that slangy and energetic Judy has been awaiting. Alex's scientific authority and indifference gives Judy "the reds" (i.e., angers her) while at the same time feeding her desire. He refuses to take her seriously as a romantic object, instead engaging her parents in conversations about dishwashing, the rhythm of electric generators and time study. With the help of her sympathetic and understanding mom, she sets a trap for Alex. In the end he falls victim to this stereotypically female plotting, humanized by Judy's electrically enabled cooking.
The story is told with so much style and enthusiasm, especially on JudyÕs part (played by Bonnie Baken, an actress and theater director now residing in New England), that one almost forgives the usual one-track domesticity attributed to the women. Like another domestic drama, The Best Made Plans (on the Tireless Marketers CD-ROM), it's set in the eternal suburban present, where minor problems and conflicts blend seamlessly into one another. As Young Man's Fancy begins, Judy is ironing and tapping her foot to the music on the radio. An announcer comes on, saying "Twelve o'clock: time for the latest news," Judy snaps off the radio, and we are transported into a place where world events do not intervene.
In a sales memo, the Jam Handy Organization explained Young Man's Fancy this way: ÒThrough the medium of boy-meets-girl, a young manÕs hobby of time and motion study starts them on the road to romance. While the study unfolds, many household appliances Ñ representing several manufacturers Ñ all electric, some large and some small, play their part in JudyÕs plan for getting her man.Ó
What, besides appliances and electricity, is Young Man's Fancy trying to sell? First of all, it's trying to outfit homes with as much technology as possible. New households were being established at record rates in 1951, and Edison Electric Institute, a trade association of investor-owned (nonpublic) utilities, wished to stimulate electrical consumption (see below). This was an era when many homes still had appliances dating back to the Twenties, and many owned only the most rudimentary ones. At the same time, it shows women how they can perform their household duties with increased convenience and greater speed (though it doesn't assert that there will be less work to do in a fully electrified house).
On top of this, it piles on an appeal to what can only be called male scientific authority. Young Alexander Phipps constantly offers a scientific rationale for the mechanized kitchen, elaborating theories for what one imagines must already be common sense. In essence, he calls for the recognition of housework as industrialized labor. "The kitchen today is like a factory in many ways," Alex asserts.
Business Screen, the trade journal of the sponsored film industry, wrote in 1949 about Edison Electric Institute's efforts to encourage the comsumption of electricity. "In its search for new load potentials, the Edison Electric Institute has unearthed a comparatively untapped, 35-billion-dollar market. Institute researchers estimate that if all kitchens in wired homes would be electrified according to modern standards, a retail market of 35 billion dollars in electric appliances would be opened up. Add to this the fact that the additional revenue brought in by this electrification would exceed by 2-1/3 billion dollars Ñ 1.7 times Ñ the amount of annual revenue gained fron residential sales today, and the magnitude of this unsold market becomes somewhat staggering.
CU feet taping; camera approaches old radio; MCU old radio; camera approaches girl ironing; MCU girl ironing; she stops, turns, turns off radio, begins to iron again; woman enters frame, approaches refrigerator, takes out bottle of milk, MCU girl ironing; CU woman speaking; MCU girl, she stops ironing, throws arm into air, unplugs iron, approaches table, sits down by placing leg over back of chair, woman places dish of food on table in front of girl, girl places napkin on lap, woman shuts oven door; MCU girl eating, MCU girl eating and woman carrying 2 coffee cups, approaching table, woman sits down; MCU woman picking up letter, opens it, MCU girl, MCU woman and girl sitting at table; VS MCU woman and girl sitting at table speaking to each other, woman's is also reading letter.
girl vacuuming living room; stops, unplugs it; woman enters frame; they engage in conversation; girl approaches window; girl looking out window shot from outside; MS girl kneeling on sofa looking out window, grabs head, runs back to vacuum and woman, picks up vacuum, woman rubs seat of chair.
MCU 2 young men approaching front door of house, they each have 1 suitcase, they reach door and both wave hand as if to want the other to proceed first, one then turns door knob, then the other pushes open the door.
woman in living room, 2 young men enter room, 1 hugs woman and then introduces the other; MCU 2 young men; MS woman and 2 young men; MCU girl (weird expression on face and has rollers in hair) approaching woman's side, woman puts arm on girl's shoulder, young man approaches woman placing his arms on other young man's and woman's shoulder; 2 young men pick up suit cases and proceed slowly up stair case while stopping and speaking; woman and girl engaged in conversation approach kitchen, girl is removing rollers from hair.
young man in bathroom shaving with electric razor; turns around to speak to someone behind him; MCU young man sticking head out from behind shower curtain.
girl looking in mirror fixing lipstick and hair; young man enters frame; VS of them engaging in conversation; another young man comes down stairs, girl exits frame.
girl approaches stove, CU girl's hand taking lid off pot and removing small amount of food, eating it, she turns to door and states, "Come and get it"; woman approaches stove, 2 young men enter kitchen; they approach table and sit down, girl places plates of food on table, young man wearing glasses states, "what's cookin?" phone can be heard ringing in BG, girl exits frame, young men start to eat; woman removes milk from refrigerator, approaches table, pours milk into glasses.
VS girl sitting on stairs, speaking on telephone.(she uses groovy type 1950s teen terminology)
2 young men sitting at table, woman standing over them, they engage in conversation, young man approaches dish washer while speaking, woman approaches sink, she begins to load dish washer, young man exits frame; other young man approaches dish washer, helps woman, VS of them engaging in conversation.
young man sitting in chair talking on phone, girl standing next to him with arms crossed (stair case railing in BG), young man hangs up phone, girl begins to speak, they engage in conversation.
VS young man and woman standing in kitchen engaging in conversation, young man is wearing suit, woman is folding napkins and place mats, girl enters frame, smiling, speaks to young man; MCU young man and girl; young man looks at watch, goes to exit, stops, taps girl's shoulder, then exits; VS girl looking very unhappy with woman standing along side her.
woman unloading washing machine speaking; VS woman and girl folding cloths engaging in conversation; MCU young girl paces back and forth, she approaches stair railing, leans against it, woman standing behind her.
MCU girl sitting on sofa reading magazine; MS living room, man sitting in chair, young man standing next to him speaking, girl next to chair sitting on sofa; MCU young man, MCU girl, happy facial expressions; MCU older man turning head, speaking, holding pipe in hand; MCU young man speaking; MCU girl speaking; MS living room, man speaking; young boy approaches record player; MCU girl she is smiling states, "PLAY SOMETHING GROOVY ALEX"; she stands up and begins to dance; MS young man putting on record, as music begins to play the girl stops dancing and has pathetic look on face; MCU girl making square shape with fingers and waving head in disgust, she approaches sofa and sits back down, begins to look at magazine again; MCU young man smiling; MCU older man holding pipe and newspaper, speaks just before end of shot.
MS woman and girl in kitchen, preparing berries to be frozen, girl eats berries, woman scooping berries from big bowl into smaller bowls, girl picks up two bowls, approaches freezer, opens it and places them in, looks down into freezer, speaking, picks up frozen corn on the cob, woman approaches freezer, girl places corn back into freezer, woman than closes door, they both approach table, woman begins to fill bowls of berries again, girl walks around behind woman, picks up dish cloth walks behind her again, they are engaging in conversation while these actions are taking place, woman picks up dish cloth, wipes hands, VS woman and girl speaking; MCU woman.
MS 2 girls folding towels from dryer, girl places towel against cheek, engaging in conversation, they both throw down towels, approach counter and chair, girl climbs up and sits on counter top, other girl straddles chair, MCU girl on counter top states, "At first he was gone, a really big wheel.", MCU other girl stating, "Well it isn't the first time a big wheel turned out to be just a hubcap."; a girl is speaking.
MS living room, woman dusting chair, other girl sitting on arm of chair with feet on seat of chair, woman approaches girl slaps her leg, girl stands up, walks behind woman, woman is speaking while walking, approaches lamp table dusting it, girl sits on arm of another chair, woman snaps fingers facing girl, girl jumps down and sits on seat of chair, looking up at woman, woman sits down on sofa, girl sits down next to her, MCU girl and woman; MCU girl and woman sitting on sofa speaking to each other.
VS girl in kitchen, placing pots in oven and milk and butter in refrigerator, woman enters frame, VS woman and girl speaking to each other; girl approaches stove, sets timer with woman watching, VS woman and girl; MS 2 young men sitting in living room speaking to each other, woman and girl enter frame, both young men stand up; 1 then sits down on coffee table, he stands up; VS of the four of them speaking to each other; girl exits frame; MCU woman who states, "Well don't over do it, you'll give her the reds."; woman exits frame; 2 young men approach camera, they stop, looking shocked, they look behind them, at each other, then begin to laugh.
MS girl in kitchen, she places food in refrigerator, approaches kitchen door, CU girl looking out door; MS man sitting in chair, speaking to young man standing in front of him; MS girl in kitchen appears to be thinking, snaps finger, approaches frig, opens it, takes out empty bowl and mixes as if there was something in the bowl; MS man and young man in living room; MS girl in kitchen; CU girl unplugging an appliance, covers up outlet with dish cloth; approaches kitchen door, says something out door, MS man and young man in living room, young man approaches kitchen; VS young man and girl engaging in conversation, they approach different appliances in kitchen; it appears as if the young man is giving tour of kitchen.
CU man placing dinner napkin on lap; MS man, 2 young men, and girl sitting at table eating dinner, they make a toast, MCU man slicing meat; VS of them sitting around table talking, MCU young man looking at watch, girl stands up, picks up some dishes, man removes them from her placing them back on table, girl hugs him; she approaches young man, he stands up, they exit frame, man and other young man stand up picking up some dishes.
MS man in kitchen loading dish washer, woman enters frame, they hug and man kisses woman on cheek, they engage in conversation, woman looks at tickets in man's shirt pocket, man removes them from his pocket, they both look at them, man looks up with thinking expression on face, woman shakes head "no", they lock arms and lean heads together.
TEENAGERS ADOLESCENTS GIRLS BOYS ROMANCE SEXUALITY NARRATIVES WOMEN MEN FAMILIES HOMES INTERIORS KITCHENS APPLIANCES ELECTRICITY TECHNOLOGY NEOLOGISMS PARENTS BROTHERS SISTERS DAILY LIFE MACHINES MUSIC RECORDS GESTURES EMOTIONS FOOD SHOWERS BATHROOMS LIVING ROOMS DINING ROOMS MEALS LAUNDRIES FASHIONS CLOTHES SLANG HOUSEWORK SLANG DATING RECREATION WINDOWS EXCLAMATIONS DOORS HOUSES HUMOR FATHERS MOTHERS PARENTS DOMESTIC DRAMAS DINNERS FUTURISM SEX ROLES Gender roles Sexuality Edison Electric Institute (sponsor) Slang (teenage) Nerds Time study Efficiency Kitchens Houses and homes (electricity) Appliances Cooking Ironing